Autonomous bus system trialled in crew support vehicle

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UK-based Fusion Processing has commenced testing of its Level 4 autonomous Fiat Ducato crew van, equipped with the company’s CAVstar ADS, the AI control and sensor system that is to be utilized in a fleet of five autonomous buses for Project CAVForth.

Project CAVForth is run by a consortium of mobility companies, headed up by Fusion Processing and including Stagecoach, the UK’s largest bus operator; Alexander Dennis, the UK’s largest bus manufacturer; and Transport Scotland.

Fusion Processing is upgrading five Dennis E200 single-decker buses – each with 43-seat capacity – to autonomous Level 4 capability. Stagecoach will operate the service on a 45km round trip from a park-and-ride on the north side of the Forth Bridge in Scotland, across the bridge, and all the way to a train and tram interchange on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The buses are already undergoing closed-course trials, with Fusion providing a complete system with all the hardware and artificial intelligence software required for AV Level 4 autonomous driving, along with expertise in meeting the relevant safety standards.

Fusion’s Jim Fleming commented, “It’s been amazing to see how quickly the engineering team have taken a stock Fiat Ducato and upgraded it to a fully autonomous vehicle. We needed a vehicle on which to install the automated driving system developed for CAVForth, and although we have a full-size bus in our Bristol facility, the Ducato crew van serves as a more convenient test platform to take on the road and measure the system performance. We’ve refined our CAVstar system over a number of projects, but even so, it was heartening that the engineering team were able to convert an entirely new vehicle in just a few months.” 

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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